Keeping the Boston ivy that grows up the side of my garage under control has turned into a part-time job. Stuff’s crazy, isn’t it? I had surveyed the plant situation when I moved into my house (three years ago as of Tuesday!) to find that not only was it latching onto and consuming the fence that separates my yard from the neighbors, but it was also clinging onto my cinderblock garage with its happy little rootlets (or scientifically, according to resources, its “suckers”). The garage itself isn’t in poor condition, so it’s probably not not doing a lot of damage to the joints, but I still want to keep the surface clean and ivy-free.
The plant needed some taming, so after years of trimming it back and transplanting it, I finally decided to build it a decoy: a pretty little trellis that it could consume all it wanted without actually attaching itself to our garage.
Keep on reading to check out the whole tutorial here. It ended up being a sweet little DIY design that I’m really happy with. Heads up, lots of pictures!
Knowing that I was going to build the trellis in a narrow space on the right side of my garage door, I began construction with minimal materials and tools:
- Four 1x2x8 furring strips ($1 each)
- A carpenters pencil
- A chop saw (that we own)
- Clamps (also owned)
- And an air compressor and nail gun with 1″ nails (we’re lucky to own so many gadgets)
I planned for the design to be simple but contemporary, with two furring strips standing vertically, and horizontal ladder rungs so that the trellis would look a little bit like the railings that we built for the front porch and the pergolas.
Instead of spacing the ladder rungs evenly up the entire trellis, I grouped them into four sets of four, first clamping the vertical pieces together, and then measuring to indicate the spacing of each rung using a scrap piece of 1×2 lumber.
The purpose of etching the marks on both boards at the same time to was to ensure that the horizontal boards ran level. And it was especially important that the boards be level, because I was going to notch the vertical furring strips so that the horizontal pieces sat within in a reinforced interlocking design.
To notch out each board, I kept the vertical set clamped together, and set my chop saw to cut at a 3/4″ depth to prevent it from sawing all the way through the lumber.
What I did next was tedious, partially because I was limited by my tool resources; a table saw with a dado blade may have worked much faster. By cutting through the boards slowly, I was able to carve 3/4″ slices into the wood in small 1/8″ increments. It’s not the greatest picture, but it does give you a good idea of how many cuts were required to create a space for one single rung.
This wasn’t fast. It took nearly an hour to carve out all 16 notches and gave both me and the chop saw a legit workout. I followed up by cutting 16 12″ pieces of furring strips to serve as the horizontal rungs.
To clean up ragged edges, I ran over each board quickly with a multi-tool sanding attachment. So clean. So smooth.
Because the entire trellis was really lightweight and wouldn’t be holding a tremendous amount of ivy, I had no reservations about using the nail gun to attach the vertical and horizontal pieces together. With three clean 1″ nails popped into each attachment, it’s more than slightly secure, I could nearly climb it myself. As an alternative to the nail gun, I’d suggest 1″ wood screws for a secure connection.
When it came to installing the finished piece, I relied partially on Mother Earth, burying the lower two inches of the trellis into the ground beside the driveway, and then deciding to anchor the top of the trellis directly to the garage wall with a single, light-duty cement screw.
By attaching a piece of 1×4 scrap to the backside of the trellis, it’ll remain forced to float an inch off the cinderblock, leaving the ivy having to reach harder for the wall.
Voila, so pretty, simple, and purposeful, right? The first few pieces of ivy needed some training, but hopefully with a little more positioning it’ll latch on and be right at home.
Catching the home improvement bug at an early age, Emily Winters is a now a devoted DIYer living in Rochester, NY. The projects she covers on her blog Merrypad range from painting a wall to building a deck, so it’s only natural she landed at DIYNetwork.com. You can follow Emily on twitter at @merrypad and like her on facebook at facebook.com/merrypad.